Hallmark feels impact of falling card sales

Hallmark Cards Inc. announced last week it will Hallmark Cards Inc. announced last week it will close this Topeka, Kan., plant that made one-third of its cards. In consolidating its Kansas operations, Kansas City-based Hallmark plans to shed 300 jobs. (Oct. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Say it's your birthday or you've just had a baby, maybe got engaged or bought your first house. If you're like many Americans, your friends are texting their congratulations, clicking "Like" on your Facebook wall, or maybe sending you an e-card.

But how many will send a paper greeting card? "I'm really bad at it," said Melissa Uhl. The 25-year-old nanny from Kansas City, Mo., hears from friends largely through Facebook.

Once a staple of birthdays and holidays, paper greeting cards are fewer and farther between. The cultural shift is a worrisome challenge for the nation's top card maker, Hallmark Cards Inc., which announced last week it will close a Kansas plant that made one-third of its cards. In consolidating its Kansas operations, Kansas City-based Hallmark plans to shed 300 jobs.

Over the past decade, the number of greeting cards sold in the United States has dropped from 6 billion to 5 billion a year, by Hallmark's estimates.

"What Hallmark started with met the needs of the consumers in that early 20th century," said Pam Danziger, president of Stevens, Pa.-based Unity Marketing. "It's no surprise that in the 21st century the old idea of a greeting card being sent by mail just doesn't work anymore."

According to a U.S. Postal Service study, correspondence such as greeting cards fell 24 percent between 2002 and 2010.

Invitations alone dropped nearly 25 percent, just between 2008 and 2010. The survey attributed the decline to "changing demographics and new technologies."

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